Auburn Hills, MI --
“Being a Marine is all I’ve ever wanted to be.” The words are said by the slim, 19-year-old boy proudly wearing a red Marine Corps shirt and a military haircut. He makes his statement while sitting at a high-top table in the middle of Oakland University’s student center.
James William Newton III found his passion for the military and the Marine Corps at an early age. His father and grandfather both served as Marines in the Gulf War and Korean War, respectively.
“Jake has wanted to be a third generation Marine from about the age of six or seven,” said James Newton II, his father. “I always told him, ‘Anything worthwhile is worth working for.’”
Newton began his research at an early age in order to become a commissioned officer in the Marine Corps. His first attempt was an application to the U.S. Naval Academy; he made it to the last selection board, but was ultimately not selected.
“A rejection like this would probably deter most kids, but Jake was determined he was going to find a way,” said Newton’s dad.
Although this was April 2013, this was not his first rejection; Newton wanted to stay competitive and submitted a package into the Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps, hoping to earn a scholarship to the University of Michigan.
He was not selected by the NROTC board, and this became his first rejection in January 2013.
“I realized how competitive being a Marine Corps officer is, and that I’d have to step up who I am as a person and go above and beyond to meet the standards,” said Newton.
As a senior, with more than a year of research under his belt and two rejections, Newton refused to give up.
“Not being selected gave me more motivation to remain competitive. I always met the standards, but now it was time to stand out,” said Newton.
Newton, who is a now sophomore at Oakland University is studying criminal justice with a focus on homeland security, and is slated to graduate spring 2017.
“From previous research, I had known about the Marine Corps’ Platoon Leaders Course, so I knew I could do college and the Marine Corps,” said Newton. “I wanted to be involved with the Marine Corps as quickly as possible, that’s why I chose PLC.”
Platoon Leaders Course is just one path that can lead to commissioning as an officer in the Marine Corps. This program is available to college freshman, sophomores and juniors attending any accredited four-year college are eligible for this class, according to Marines.com.
After submitting two packages for PLC, Newton discovered he had been selected.
“Finding out I had been selected was the best feeling I’ve had in my life. My parents did everything possible that parents could do in order to help me get selected,” said Newton. “My dad is very proud, and he’s everything I want to be.”
In total, Newton submitted a total of four packages which yielded 3 rejections.
“My ultimate goal to become a Marine Corps Officer, and my desire to become a Marine Corps Officer has never wavered,” said Newton.
Newton has also started a Semper Fi Society at Oakland University to educate the University students about the Marine Corps and its opportunities. Its goal is to help prepare current and potential officer candidates physically and mentally for Officer Candidates Course or PLC while also teaching military customs and courtesies.
“I can’t express enough, the pride his mother, father and the family have for him,” said Newton’s dad. “It’s a dream and a goal he’s set, and it’s finally coming true.”
Newton will attend PLC Juniors summer 2014.